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First Impressions 

We waited patiently in the recording studio lobby. Our engineer and his crew were late. 

When they finally shuffled into the facility, they seemed distracted and hurried. They took one glance at us, didn’t even say hello, and then went into the studio, leaving us in the lobby. 

Finally, one of the assistants came and escorted us to our stations. Sherry set up at the piano and I took the spot where I would record guitar. We put our headsets on and the engineer (let’s call him Mitch) was now at the recording console. He clicked on his microphone and rattled off some instructions to us. 

We could see Mitch behind the glass. If we were reading his body language correctly, he was wondering how quickly he could get this project finished and move on to some real work.

Can't say we could blame him. After all, we were unknowns and could have been any amateur vanity act. He had recorded al the professionals and had no idea of what we could do.

The crew had a number of technical things they had to do: setting up microphones, positioning acoustic baffles, etc. And the musicians that we had hired to back us up started to arrive and they also needed assistance.

In all the chaos, Sherry and I were left on our own. So we did what we do every chance we get: we practiced.

After we made it through just a few bars of one our songs, we heard the click in the headsets. It was Mitch again. 

“Hey, George and Sherry,” he said enthusiastically,  “How’s the balance? You guys comfortable?” 

We didn’t know he even knew our names based on the initial reception. Now we were best friends?  Mitch chatted some more pleasantries and told his assistants to drop what they were doing to help us get things adjusted just right. 

We are used to this reaction. Based on first impressions of us, people are skeptical we’re going to have any talent. And then we play. We may be not be earning a living making music, but we approach it professionally. So for the people who make snap judgments and lower their expectations just based on a glance, they seem to walk away impressed. 

It’s now happened more times than we can count (the latest  incident was just last week at a songwriting competition). 

At first this bothered us a bit. We weren't sure if it was a combination of 
agism (how old is that guy?) or sexism (she probably can’t play an instrument) or racism (do Asians even know jazz?).  

Now, we embrace the opportunity to surprise and delight the skeptics.

We’re both introverts so we are not inclined to come into a room and shout for attention.  

But we are far from shy. We know how to perform. We rehearse and polish our material. And we’re passionate and serious about what we do. 

We walked out of the studio that day having recorded with some of the top sessions players in town. They seemed to enjoy our songs and working with us. “Y’all come back and see us some time,” one of them said. 

As for ol’  Mitch, he left humming one of our tunes.

It's Wine Wednesday! Edition No. 7. 

Every Wednesday evening we find a nice bottle of wine from the region (Bay Area) and we "pair" it with a song.

Featured wine: Round Pond Kith and Kin 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon 

Featured song: L'hymne à L'amour 

About the winery 

Located in the acclaimed Rutherford region of Napa Valley, Round Pond is a family-owned and operated estate designed around our vineyards, gardens and orchards. 

Winemaker's Notes 

"Beautifully balanced, this wine jumps out of the glass with aromas of candied cherries, cassis and strawberries with vanilla cream.

"The supple entry opens brightly with intense sweet fresh fruit of blackberry and boysenberry. Softening through the mid-palate, fleshy red fruits of black cherry and rhubarb ..."


92 points on Wine Spectrum 

About the Music 

Today being International Women's Day, we decided to feature a pair of women who were pioneers in popular song during the 1930s, '40s, '50s.

Marguerite Monnot was a child-prodigy classical pianist who turned to writing popular songs after health problems ended her performing career at age 18. 

Édith Piaf, nee Édith Giovanna Gassion,  was a French cabaret singer, songwriter and actress who became widely regarded as France's national chanteuse, as well as being one of France's greatest international stars.[1] 

Together, the duo wrote many songs that are regarded and revered worldwide. 

The birth of Deadweight 

It was a cold but clear Sunday 45 years ago when five teenage boys descended the back stairs into the basement of the Methodist Church in Madison, Maine. They lugged various pieces of musical equipment: amplifiers, guitars, microphones, stands, cables, drums.

Three of the boys were from Madison High School and had played together in the past. They were:

Rick Demchak, lead vocals and rhythm guitar

Larry Vigneault: Lead guitar and background vocals

Arthur LeBlanc: Bass and background vocals

The other two were from a different school in another town
and this was an implicit audition for them.

Mark Myers, the drummer, was essentially a shoe-in. He had his own gear and had been playing semi-professionally for a few years already.

George Paolini, keyboards, guitar, harmonica and vocals, was a different matter. He had no equipment (other than a harmonica) and was an unknown quantity, having recently moved to the area.

(The five lads had been brought together by impresario Mike Poland, the only witness to the day's event.)

Arthur was kind enough to lend George some gear for the occasion. So they set up and began to go through the paces, including: Johnny B. Goode, Blue Suede Shoes, First I Look at the Purse (J. Geils version), Country Roads, Sounds of Silence.

During a break, Rick and Arthur gave George a few tips on how to play rock progressions on the guitar. It appeared the jury was still out as to whether George was up to the task of playing in the band.

And then Larry, the coolest member, who looked a lot like John Lennon and played his Fender Jazzmaster like Jimi Hendrix, had a few questions of his own for George. Did he know any Tull? (As in Jethro.) Any Cooper? (As in Alice.)

George faked his way through the interview. But there was an old upright piano nearby, and George walked over and pounded out a few riffs from Grand Funk Railroad’s Mean Mistreater.

And George was in.

Rick then suggested it was time to decide on a band name, because there was a sock hop at the junior high school in two weeks and the gig was for the taking.

Arthur had a couple ideas. The first one was voted down because it sounded too much like The Kinks and the second one was something akin to "Purple Curtain" which everyone said was nowhere near as cool as Velvet Underground, which, of course, was already taken.

They kicked around a few other ideas and began to riff on the word “Dead,” which was unmistakably cool. If any of them thought this term might  invoke copyright infringement from The Dead (as in Grateful), nothing was verbalized.

And so they settled on Deadweight. Not The Deadweight and certainly not The Deadweights. Just Deadweight. One word.

They played the gig at the sock hop, netting $9 apiece. In the newspaper, the band was billed as The Rick Demchak Trio, which was a running joke for sometime thereafter.

They did many other gigs for the next couple years and became, unequivocally, the second best rock band in the Madison-Skowhegan area.

The No. 1 group was the Craig Barnaby Blues Band. For the record, there were no other bands in the area.

-- George